Letter to members


(03) 9380 5892
ABN 90 664 094 378

President: Dr John Howes OAM

June 2021

Dear members of Learningguild,

This letter is indeed addressed to you all, but this time I have in mind especially those with whom I’ve not recently been in contact.  I’ll also give or send copies of it to men and women who’d like to know more about us, and ask Stephen, Margaret’s and my second son, who so valuably manages our website, to include it there.

I welcome phone calls, preferably on Saturdays between 9am and 9pm, or on Sundays 9 to noon, or any other day between 3.30 and 4 and (not on Wednesdays) 8.30 pm to 9.  Also gladly received are emails and posted letters.

Learninguild Letter is a (normally twice-yearly) magazine rather than a news-letter.  However, it can also serve as a vehicle for the wide sharing of news, views and recommendations (NVR).  I confess I had earlier thought of using the word ‘references’, which is far too narrow!  The recommendations could be not only of books and articles, but of places to visit, recipes to try, and so on.  You might write for NVR as little as 50 words, or as many as 200.  Contributions for 1.2021 would preferably reach me by the end of June and for 2.2021 by the end of December.

We have a new member outside Australia: Fahrab Akbar Kahn from Pakistan, who some years ago took a Master’s course at ANU, where one of her teachers was Stephen.  She wants to develop her knowledge and use of English.  Another new member is Sue Roe, from Tasmania, a close friend of my sister-in-law Dorothy since their student days: each of them has been a secondary teacher.

At present I’m working on an editorial letter with these three subjects: “cheerful courage” and uses of the word ‘heart’ and of the word ‘soul’.  I put the first in double inverted commas because I’m quoting and using a phrase from Isaac Watts.  Which uses of ‘heart’ would you say are or could be yours, and which of ‘soul’?  And which not?  (A fairly large dictionary might be helpful in thinking about those questions.)  Counterpart words in other languages might be brought in too.  I’d be glad to have any responses by the end of this month.

A book I warmly recommend, published last year, is The Well-Gardened Mind.  It’s by Sue Stuart-Smith, an English psychiatrist and psychotherapist.  She has found gardens to be a very valuable form of therapy for herself and for many patients, and with her husband Tom, a garden designer, does plenty of work in their own famous garden.

Each of you is most welcome to make a recommendation, on any subject.

I warmly invite members to be familiar with this website, and especially the Introduction to the Sets of Documents.  In effect it answers the question “Which document, related to which book or books, is right for me now, given the stage I’ve reached in my study of English grammar and good writing?”. One example: for many students, those who are at the elementary or the low intermediate stage, the answer is “SSC (in Set A) and the Oxford Essential Dictionary”.

The third edition of my book Making up Sentences has appeared in print and is also available free online.  There, the back cover immediately follows the front one!  On it the nature of the book is described: you can see that I’m seeking to give grammar the lively image that it deserves, partly by associating it with various examples of good writing.  Criticisms and other comments would be welcome.

Membership of Learningguild is open to anyone in any country who wants to go on learning and help others learn.  If you reside in Australia or are here temporarily, we normally ask you to pay an annual subscription of $15 ($22.50 for couples).  Our bank number is 633 108  1622 69245.  Cash or a cheque made out to Learningguild may be sent or given to me.  A list of uses of our funds will shortly appear at MEMBERSHIP on the website: it will be similar to the one on p.19 of Learningguild Letter 1.2020.  Members in other countries are simply asked to declare an intention to contact a member in Australia at least once a year.

With best wishes,

 Yours in Learningguild,


23 Fallon Street
Victoria 3056